Business Name Registration
There are four types of business structures in Ontario: sole-proprietorship, partnerships, corporations and cooperatives. Learn more about which business structure is right for you.
Business Registration and Licencing
The Economic Development department offers business registration and licence assistance for all new and existing businesses.
New businesses will typically fall under one of the three most common business structures:
- Sole proprietorship: A non-incorporated business with only one owner.
- General partnership: A non-incorporated business with more than one owner.
- Incorporation: A legal entity that separates the business from its owner/operator. Incorporations can be made either federally or provincially.
Below are some resources to help decide which business structure to choose:
Registering for a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership
A Business Name Registration formerly known as a Master Business Licence applies to entrepreneurs who want to register a sole proprietorship, a partnership or an operating name (trade name) for a corporation. The name of a new business must be registered if it is different than the business owner’s legal name. A sole proprietorship or general partnership registration does not guarantee exclusivity of a business name. A Business Name Registration is valid for a five-year period and must be renewed once it has expired.
Costs for a Business Name Registration at our office:
- Name search: $8 to $26 depending on the types of records included in the search
- Name Registration/Renewal: $60 to register or renew
*Payment is made directly on the Province of Ontario’s Service Ontario Business Registry website and only Visa, Visa Debit, Mastercard or Mastercard Debit are accepted for payment
Business Name Registration may require 1-2 weeks lead time:
Please allow 1-2 weeks lead time for the Province to process and issue a business name registration certificate. While in the past, it was possible to have this issued on-the-spot, with the current system that can only be done in very limited circumstances. From the time an applicant submits their information on the Provincial portal, it may take a minimum of 5-10 business days (described below).
In order to apply, a business needs the following pieces of information:
- Owners’ name (or Corporation name for a corporate-owned business name registration)
- Credit card/ debit visa or Master card
- A valid email
- If an applicant is a sole proprietor or general partnership who does not currently have an active business name registration, then VBEC can help them to submit their information on the Provincial portal for a Business Name Registration. After submitting their information and making payment, in this case, they will receive the certificate on-the-spot by email.
- For a sole proprietor or general partnership who currently has an active business name registration (not yet expired), the business must first request a ‘company key’ from Service Ontario before they can proceed with the business name registration step. This is explained in (3) below.
- If an applicant is a corporation or is a business as defined in (2) above, who does not yet have a ‘company key’ issued by Service Ontario, then VBEC can help them to submit their information on the Provincial portal. After submitting their information, they can not apply for the Business Name Registration Certificate yet, they may need to wait 5-10 business days for a company key to be physically mailed or, for faster service, e-mailed to them.
- Once they receive their company key (or if they already have a company key), then VBEC can help them to submit their information on the Provincial portal for a Business Name Registration. After submitting their information and making payment, in this case, they will receive the certificate on-the-spot by email.
Ready to register your Business Name?
City of Vaughan staff can assist with business registration for sole proprietorship and general partnership from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; no appointment required.
* Please have a valid email, and payment method ready when you meet with a City of Vaughan staff member.
Register online with the Government of Ontario
The Ontario Business Registry allows businesses and not-for-profit corporations to complete over 90 transactions online, including registering, incorporating, and updating their information.
Register online with Ownr
Ownr is a digital platform that helps you register your sole-proprietorship, incorporate, create legal agreements, manage employee documents, and more. The platform also provides offers and discounts on business services.
Ownr is a partner of the Small Business Centres (SBC) Ontario network.
Incorporating a Business
When a business is incorporated, it is considered to be a legal entity that is separate from its owners. It is always wise to seek legal advice before incorporating. An incorporation can either be made federally or provincially.
Register online with Ownr
Ownr is a digital platform that helps you register, incorporate, create legal agreements, manage employee documents, and more. The platform also provides offers and discounts on business services.
What the new Business Name Registration Document looks like
Note: sample is current as of: April 14, 2023
A business number (BN) is your single account number for dealing with the federal government regarding taxes, payroll, import or export and other activities. If you plan to hire employees, or if you will be importing and/or exporting products or services, you will need to get a business number.
If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to charge and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).
Getting a Municipal Business Licence
Planning to operate a business in Vaughan? A municipal business licence may be required. The City of Vaughan currently licenses/permits various types of businesses, special events, lotteries and other activities.